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Lindsey Fitzharris @DrLindseyFitz
, 43 tweets, 22 min read Read on Twitter
I just hit 40K! Welcome followers, old & new. Over the next few days, I’ll be tweeting 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS, starting with #40: a medieval skull fused with chainmail. The soldier died at the Battle of Visby in 1361 in Gotland, Sweden. He was buried in his armour.
#39 in my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: the Beauchêne skull, or exploded skull. It’s a type of anatomical preparation invented by the French anatomist Claude Beauchêne in the 19th century. This stunning example was created by Ryan Matthew Cohn.
#38 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: the world's oldest complete example of a human with metastatic cancer. Researchers from Durham University & the British Museum discovered evidence of tumors in this 3,000-year-old skeleton found in the Sudan in 2013:…
#37 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: this remarkably detailed wax anatomical model from the Javier Puerta Museum, c.1787. Wax models like this were used for teaching anatomy to medical students at a time when few bodies were available for dissection.
#36 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: When Galileo’s body was exhumed in 1737, three of his fingers were cut off. One of them is now on display at the Galileo Museum, Florence. It points to the heavens its owner had spent a lifetime pondering through the lens of his telescope.
#35 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: This brilliant illustration from 1815 entitled: “Witches: Five Silhouetted Figures.” From the @ExploreWellcome in London (visit them! follow them!)
#34 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: The Dance of Death, German oil painting, 18th century. Depicting living people from all walks of life encountering skeletal figures who force them to engage in a deathly dance, it is a metaphor for the inevitability of our ultimate demise.
#33 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: Heart-shaped pendant with a lock of hair from Queen Marie Antoinette, set under glass or rock-crystal with an inscribed card and mounted in a gold filigree setting. Now at the @britishmuseum.
#32 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: Victorian alarm clark which served as a “memento mori,” reminder of death. It prompted people to think about the shortness of life. Perfect for tonight's #NewYearsEve countdown! It is currently housed at the @sciencemuseum in London.
#31 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: Three glass eyes with portable velvet carrying case & mirror, c.1870. These were likely meant to be carried by an ocularist – someone who specialized in making and fitting prosthetic eyes – to assist them in making the best possible match.
#30 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: Egyptian Prosthetic Toe, c.950-710 B.C. Egyptians took great pains to have the bodies of their dead buried intact. This artificial toe is so well made, however, it's unlikely it was only intended for the afterlife:
#29 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: Child's skull (19th century) showing deciduous teeth (baby/primary teeth) & permanent teeth located above. Note the position of the canines directly under the eye socket (hence the term "eye teeth"). This skull is from @HunterianLondon.
#28 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: Male skeleton showing wear pattern to teeth resulting from long-term pipe smoking, c.1660. It was excavated from the Patuxent Point site, Calvert County, MD. All of the skeletons uncovered (men, women, and children) showed signs of smoking.
#27 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: 3,300-year-old skull with hair extensions. A team of archeologists discovered the remains in the Egyptian city of Amarna. Fat was a frequently used styling product and Henna was used to hide any stray grey hairs:
#26 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: This remarkable specimen of a human head was prepared by the French anatomist Honoré Fragonard, 250 years before the technique of plastinating bodies was invented. It’s now at the Musée Fragonard, Paris. Photo: Paul Koudounaris.
#25 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: 440-pound heart from a blue whale, the largest known animal to ever exist. The heart was so large that technicians from @ROMtoronto had to douse it in over 1,000 gallons of formaldehyde before the plastination process could begin.
#24 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: this photo of the "Student’s Dream” from the 19th century - depicting a medical student being dissected by his own cadavers. It is very much of its era, when postmortem photography was popular.
#23 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: This memorial in Arlington, Massachusetts to American #badss, Samuel Whittemore, who at the age of 80 became the oldest-known colonial combatant in the Revolutionary War. He was shot, bayoneted, & beaten by the British - but survived.
#22 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: Charles Darwin’s whalebone walking stick with skull pommel in ivory with green glass eyes - now in @ExploreWellcome, London. I bet you didn’t know Darwin was such a dude!
#21 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: Obstetric Phantom, 18th century. The wood and leather model was used to teach medical students, and possibly midwives, about childbirth. It came from the Hospital del Ceppo in Pistoia, near Florence, founded in 1277. Photo: @sciencemuseum.
#20 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: The hand of Old Croghan Man, a 2000-year-old bog body that has been naturally mummified in a peat bog. The man's apparently manicured nails led to speculation that he was not someone who engaged in manual labour.
#19 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: The oldest-surviving anatomical theatre in the world, built in 1594 & located in Padua. At the center stands a table on which the dissections of human or animal bodies took place. You can still visit it today. Photo: Daily Art Magazine.
#18 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: Bloody gloves belonging to Abraham Lincoln. When the President was shot by John Wilkes Booth, some of the blood ran down his sleeve and pooled in the pocket which contained the gloves. Photo: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.
#17 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: this unusual memento mori from @ExploreWellcome. One side of this carved ivory head shows a human face crawling with worms; the other side shows a skull crawling with toads after the worms have eaten away at the flesh. Date unknown.
#16 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: Dental Phantom, c.1898. The dental phantom was first created by the Glaswegian dentist Eduard Oswald Fergus a few years earlier as a tool for students to practice their craft before working on human subjects. #histmed
#15 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: This frieze showing Medicine's battle with Death in Fulton County, Georgia. Note the rod with two snakes. Many mistake it for the Rod of Asclepius (the traditional symbol of healing). This is the Caduceus, symbol of commerce.
#14 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: 18th-century dildo with plunger to simulate ejaculation. The sex toy is made of ivory. It was found in a convent in Paris, having been hidden for almost 100 years in the seat of a Louis XV armchair, and has its own cloth bag. #histsex
#13 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: a mummified cat found in the floorboards of an early 19th-century house in Britain. During this period, it was customary to hide dried or mummified cats within the walls to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck to the inhabitants.
#12 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: “One Night Cough Syrup” from the 1930s, which contained cannabis, morphine, chloroform, & alcohol! In 1934, the FDA ruled that the claims of the cough syrup's therapeutic properties were misleading, and remaining stock was destroyed.
#11 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: this photo of Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri at the turn of the 20th century. The walls were painted by a surgeon who wanted to give patients something to look at while they waited for their anesthesia. #histmed
#10 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: the graves of a Catholic woman & her Protestant husband, who were not allowed to be buried together due to cemetery regulations. They died in the 1880s. Note: the hands clasping over the dividing wall. Located in Roermond, the Netherlands.
#9 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: the thorax of an elderly woman (left), deformed by prolonged use of restrictive corsets & tight-lacing from young age in the Victorian period. This incredible specimen is from @HunterianLondon. (On the right for comparison: a normal thorax.)
#8 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: 5,000-year-old prosthetic eye made of bitumen paste with lines radiating out from the iris. Worn by a 6’ tall woman (possibly a priestess), found near the city of Zabol in Iran. The eye would have been painted gold in her life. #goldeneye
#7 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: Marie Curie's notebooks, which are RADIOACTIVE & must be stored in a lead-lined box in the Bibliothèque Nationale. Curie’s corpse is also radioactive. Her coffin is lined in an inch of lead. Both will remain radioactive for 1,500+ years.
#6 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: This statue of Saint Bartholomew, an early Christian martyr who was allegedly skinned alive. Notice: that's not a robe that he’s holding. It's his dissected skin. This stunning statute is by the Italian sculptor Marco d’Agrate, c.1562.
#5 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: This extraordinary postmortem photo of Thomas & Mary Souder in a double casket from 1921. They died of dysentry within 48 hours of one another. Postmortem photography became popular in the Victorian era & continued into the 20th century.
#4 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: graveyard gun used to prevent bodysnatchers from stealing corpses to sell to anatomists, c.1820. Set at the foot of a grave, the gun would have had three tripwires around it. One such gun reportedly killed a grieving father by accident.
#3 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: this 18th-century pewter syringe recovered from the shipwreck of the Queen Anne's Revenge, the famed flagship of the pirate Black Beard. The syringe contained mercury, which was used to treat pirates aboard ailing from syphilis. #histmed
#2 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: this book bound in the skin of the murderer William Burke, on display @surgeonshall. Want to know more about anthropodermic bibliopegy: BOOKS BOUND IN HUMAN SKIN? Watch my video on my YouTube channel #UnderTheKnife:
#1 of my 40 FAVOURITE HISTORY OBJECTS: this medieval warrior who appears to have worn A KNIFE AS A PROSTHETIC after his forearm was amputated. The skeleton was found in a Longobards burial pit, which dates to the 6th-8th centuries AD. I think you’ll agree, it’s pretty badass.
Because of your RTs, I received another 8K followers from this thread. As promised: here's a BONUS OBJECT: the oldest-known anatomical specimen, c.1280. The arteries are filled with a red wax that helped preserve the head. Note the rodent nibbles on the face. Privately owned.
We’ve reached the end of my 40 FAVOURITE OBJECTS! If you’re interested in medical history, please check out my book THE BUTCHERING ART, about the brutal & bloody world of Victorian surgery. Currently available in 10 languages.

Link to US edition:
And don’t forget to follow the incredible collections featured here: @ExploreWellcome, @surgeonshall, @ROMtoronto, @sciencemuseum, and @HunterianLondon.

You can also FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM, where I post more objects & #histmed stories:…
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